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Listed: For $2.5 million, the whimsical home and workshop of a local innovator

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75-Kendall-Lexington-Exterior
The contemporary-farmhouse style home offers five bedrooms, four full bathrooms, and one half bathroom. Anfuso Imaging

Calling all inventors, dreamers, designers, and tinkers: This Lexington farmhouse offers all the space you need to make your latest imagined creation a reality, with two massive greenhouses-turned-workshops on the spacious 1.47-acre lot. 

The 5,344-square-foot home belongs to jazz musician and architect Christopher Janney. If you’ve stopped in he 34th Street Subway Station in New York City, witnessed the “Sonic Forest” at Bonnaroo or Coachella, or seen the anemone-like scoreboard at the FTX Arena, you’ve enjoyed some Janney’s work. He’s also the mastermind behind the musical stairs at Boston’s Museum of Science. Those stairs, the first of several “Soundstair” installations across the country, were Janney’s thesis at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies.

“There’s a lot of spontaneity in jazz, which is pretty counterintuitive to architecture,” Janney said during a tour of the home. “But that’s always been my life, figuring out how can I make architecture more like music? How can I make it more spontaneous, more alive?”  

That’s just what Janney has done with the home he’s now selling, which hit the market June 16 for $2,500,000. Janney and his wife bought the property in 1989, the last parcel of what was once a 20-acre celery farm, Janney said. 

From the street, the five-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom home has retained its farmhouse style. The front portion hasn’t changed much at all since its celery days – the original floors, walls, and moldings were all preserved. 

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Make your way down the extended driveway, however, and the fun begins. What once were the doors to a two-car garage are now two sets of double doors that swing open into the modern living room, with a wood-burning fireplace built into a dark, wood-paneled wall. To the right, separate sets of glass doors lead out onto the roomy patio, complete with a built in hot tub and a fire pit. 

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Between these, a curved, pink-tinted glass structure covers the staircase down to the sound-proof music room, which features its own recording booth. A lifelong musician, Janney made sure the room had another ground-level entrance, making it easier to lug heavy instruments into and out of it. And as a parent, Janney also made sure he could keep an eye on his kids during late-night jam sessions with friends, adding another pink-glass pane where the riser would’ve been on the steps out to the porch, offering a small glimpse into the room.

The kitchen is located toward the front of the home, connecting the old farmhouse with the new additions. A granite-topped island offers ample room for seating, and slate-colored tile lines the floors. In the corner, a window seat makes for a cozy addition in the breakfast nook, while a curved wall of glass block windows adds a modern flair. There’s another deck off the nook, outfitted for grilling and family meals.

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A spiral staircase leads up to the second floor, where the rest of the bedrooms are located. There’s a funky clock hanging from the wall in the stairwell that tells the time sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset. Janney designed the clock – with an assist from his colleagues at MIT – for a home he was working on Hawaii. After seeing the finished product, he knew he had to have his own. “I said, ‘Well, if I’m doing one for him, I’m doing one for me,’” he said.

There’s an extra bit of science in the design here as well. Two pink-tinted skylights above the clock are shaped in ellipses, and because of the way they’re positioned in relation to the sun, one casts a perfect circular pink shadow on the Summer Solstice, the other on the Winter Solstice, Janney said. Hanging on the wall below, there’s a miniature model of earth, which Janney said he used to demonstrate to his two kids the size of the earth compared to the sun. “If the Earth was this size, the sun would be the size of this house,” he said. 

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The primary bedroom is situated in the farmhouse-style front section of the home, and could be broken into three smaller bedrooms, should the new owners desire. The main piece of the room is a loft Janney created where he and his wife slept under the stars, thanks to two sizable skylights. 

There’s also a nautical hatch window built into the ceiling, a nod to Janney’s father, who was an ocean racer. The window is more than just, well, window-dressing. “That was one of my ways to get up to the roof,” Janney said. 

The subtle seafaring theme continues in the ensuite bathroom, which features a blue, tile floor, subway tile wainscoting, a pedestal sink, and combination shower/bathtub with two small, pink-tinted portholes that look out to the landing. These are built into what was the exterior wall of the original farmhouse, lined on the other side with wood shingles. 

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The old and the new parts of the home are fused together above the entrance, with a section of the floor that is made entirely of clear, blue-tinted glass. The other two bedrooms are massive, each with wall-to-wall carpeting. In one, what appears to be a curved bookshelf opens to a walk-in closet, where a secret door lets out into the hall. In the other, a massive circular window tilts outward and offers a clear view of the lush yard.

Down a dirt path, the larger of two greenhouses serves as Janney’s workshop. The 4,000-square-foot space is chock full of projects, past and present, that have kept Janney busy throughout his career. A panel of multi-colored glass hangs from the ceiling, a miniature model of a piece Janney created for the Miami International Airport. In Miami, the glass is triple-paned and missile-proof; in the workshop, it’s a colorful memento. An electric Porsche, one of Janney’s more recent projects, is also parked inside, outfitted with enough screens to make it look like something straight out of an “Avengers” movie. 

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Back toward the home, the 2,500-square foot greenhouse offers even more creator space, though listing agent Donna Marcantonio, of the Petrowsky Jones Group at Compass, noted it could be transformed into a 1,000-square-foot accessory dwelling unit. 

When he leaves Lexington, Janney will head for the perennial sunshine of Los Angeles, where his son now lives. “I’ve just about had it with New England winters,” he said. Though he anticipates spending at least half the year on the West Coast, summers on Cape Cod may still be in the cards.

But for now, he’s focused on selling the home he’s spent the last handful of decades perfecting.

Find out more about the home at 75kendall.com.